Record numbers of LGBTQ candidates are running for public office during the 2018 election season. Many are making considerable headway on the campaign trail, which is good news for LGBTQ individuals across the country. Although the U.S. still has a long way to go where equality is concerned, the increased visibility of LGBTQ candidates on the political stage marks a definite positive step forward.
LGBTQ Candidates Are Making History
This year, approximately 400 candidates running for office in the United States identify openly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That’s a greater number than ever before. Though these candidates still face obstacles their straight and cis-gender counterparts don’t, they are making history with their successes.
One notable success comes from Vermont, where Christine Hallquist won the democratic primary for governor, making her the first trans person a major political party has nominated for the position — not only in Vermont but also in the country. Hallquist is one of four LGBTQ candidates for governor running with democratic nominations this year. Colorado’s Jared Polis, Oregon’s Kate Brown and Texas’ Lupe Valdez are the others.
LGBTQ candidates are progressing on the national campaign trail as well. In May, for example, the democratic party nominated Gina Ortiz Jones for a Texas U.S. House seat. If she wins, the former veteran will be the first lesbian official to represent her state in congress. This year could potentially mark a lot of “firsts” for LGBTQ people in politics.
Even though these candidates are unapologetically open about their sexualities and gender identities, they are relying on more than just their identities to win support from the public. In fact, they’re running on a wide variety of policy platforms. Though most of the LGBTQ candidates running for election in 2018 are democrats and progressives, at least six are republicans.
More Candidates Mean More Visibility
What’s responsible for the surge in LGBTQ candidacies and campaign successes? It’s likely that increasing acceptance of LGBTQ people plays an important role. As American society becomes more welcoming to LGBTQ individuals, those who are thinking about running for office may be more likely to take their shot.
LGBTQ candidates this year are also likely to positively impact the community in the long-term. Increased visibility boosts public acceptance and raises the self-esteem of similarly identifying individuals. The people running for office today will help open doors for more LGBTQ candidates in the future.
Additionally, although we’ve made progress in the way of anti-discriminatory policy, there is still much to be done, particularly with the current administration in place. A few recent examples show how important LGBTQ representation is. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination in the workplace, has traditionally not covered LGBTQ workers. However, when a federal court challenged that this past year, the Trump administration jumped on the chance to file a briefing arguing that the civil rights law wasn’t designed to protect LGBTQ workers.
Similarly, when the US Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) made a move to implement the section of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ruling against healthcare policies that could discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, a district court in Texas responded by issuing an injunction against the HHS. And, once again, the current administration failed to defend the anti-discriminatory regulations.
So we see how drastic it is that we have progressive and LGBTQ representation in our government. The more of these individuals we can get elected, the more pushback we will have available in instances where the current administration or any other entity attempts to obstruct justice for LGBTQ citizens.
Support Makes a Difference
In order to help candidates like Hallquist and Jones succeed on the campaign trail, organizations including the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Run With Pride gladly offer their support. These organizations gather funds through donations and use them to help candidates run successful campaigns.
The more LGBTQ candidates elected to public office, the more likely the United States is to see the end of discriminatory laws once and for all. That means support for these candidates does really make a difference. 2018’s LGBTQ candidates represent the voices of Americans who have been waiting to be heard for far too long.
If you’re interested in helping LGBTQ candidates make big political waves, remember to vote, and consider donating to their campaigns — or to one or more of the organizations supporting them. With your support, these and other LGBTQ candidates will continue to succeed on the campaign trail.